Protecting genes, one molecule at a time

By | September 11, 2012

An international team of scientists have shown at an unprecedented level of detail how cells prioritise the repair of genes containing potentially dangerous damage. The research, published in the journal Nature and involving academics from the University of Bristol, the Institut Jacques-Monod in France and Rockefeller University in the US, studied the action of individual molecules in order to understand how cellular repair pathways are triggered.

The genetic information that forms the “instruction booklet” for cells is encoded in the molecular building blocks of DNA, and can be damaged by mutagens such as ultraviolet light or tobacco smoke, as well as by normal “wear and tear” as the cells age. If left unrepaired, such damage can kill the cells or cause them to change their behaviour and perhaps cause disease.

Cells protect themselves by producing proteins that detect the damaged building blocks, cut them out and replace them with a patch of new DNA. Most cells, including bacteria and humans, contain mechanisms that ensure that the genes that are currently in use are repaired most quickly. …

via Protecting genes, one molecule at a time.

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